Andros, Bimini, and the Berry Islands Feature
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Undersea Adventures in Andros
Andros probably has the largest number of dive sites in the country. With the third-longest barrier reef in the world (behind those of Australia and Belize), the island offers about 100 mi of drop-off diving into the Tongue of the Ocean.
Uncounted numbers of blue holes are forming in the area. In some places, these constitute vast submarine networks that can extend more than 200 feet down into the coral (Fresh Creek, 40-100 feet; North Andros, 40-200-plus feet; South Bight, 40-200 feet). Blue holes are named for their inky-blue aura when viewed from above and for the light-blue filtered sunlight that is visible from many feet below. Some of the holes have vast cathedral-like interior chambers with stalactites and stalagmites, offshoot tunnels, and seemingly endless corridors. Others have distinct thermoclines (temperature changes) between layers of water and are subject to tidal flow.
The dramatic Fresh Creek site provides an insight into the complex Andros cave system. There isn't much coral growth, but there are plenty of midnight parrot fish, big southern stingrays, and some blacktip sharks. Similar blue holes are all along the barrier reef, including several at Mastic Point in the north and the ones explored and filmed off South Bight.
Undersea adventurers also have the opportunity to investigate wrecks such as the Potomac, a steel-hulled freighter that sank in 1952 and lies in 40 feet of water off Nicholl's Town. And off the waters of Fresh Creek, at 70 feet, lies the deteriorated 56-foot-long World War II LCM (landing craft mechanized) known only as the Barge Wreck, which was sunk in 1963 to create an artificial reef. Newer and more intact, the Marian wreck lies in 70 feet. Both are encrusted with coral and are home to a school of groupers and a blizzard of tiny silverfish. You'll find fish-cleaning stations where miniature cleaning shrimp and yellow gobies clean grouper and rockfish by swimming into their mouths and out their gills, picking up food particles. It's an excellent subject matter for close-up photography.
The multilevel Over the Wall dive at Fresh Creek takes novices to depths of 65-80 feet and experienced divers to 120-185 feet. The wall is covered with black coral and all kinds of tube sponges. Small Hope Bay Lodge is the most respected dive resort on Andros. It's a friendly informal place where the only thing taken seriously is diving. There's a fully equipped dive center with a wide variety of specialty dives, including customized family-dive trips with a private dive boat and dive master. If you're not certified, check out the lodge's morning resort course and be ready to explore the depths by afternoon. If you are certified, don't forget to bring your C card.
If you are leery of diving but want to view the spectacular undersea world, try a snorkeling excursion. Shallow reefs, beginning in 6 feet of water, and extending down to 60 feet or more, are ideal locations for spotting myriad brightly colored fish, sea urchins, and starfish. Don't forget your underwater camera!
Winter water temperatures average about 74°F. In summer, water temperatures average about 84°F.
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